The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has recently announced that two offshore wind sites located in Eastern North Carolina will not be leased due to objections from The Department of Defense.

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper responded by calling the decision “extremely disappointing.”

“North Carolina is the most military friendly state in the country and we will continue working to reach our offshore wind energy goals while maintaining military readiness and our robust military presence….. It will not slow North Carolina’s momentum in reaching our offshore wind energy goals as we transition to a clean energy economy,” said Cooper, “North Carolina remains committed to becoming the nation’s leader in offshore wind energy and stands ready to work with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to identify alternative solutions to solve this problem.”

The sites in question are referred to as area “D” and “F.” Area D, situated approximately 30 miles off the coast, is in close proximity to an already leased site near Kitty Hawk, spanning 191 square miles. Area F would have been located around 50 miles offshore.

A 2022 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that offshore wind turbines can interfere with radar systems. “Wind turbine generators have significant electromagnetic reflectivity, and therefore can interfere with radar systems operating nearby” said the report, “The rotating blades can also create reflections in Doppler radar systems.”

Offshore wind leases warnings are not new in North Carolina, BOEM leased two sites off the coast of Southeastern North Carolina called Wilmington East and West notwithstanding public concerns from Colonel Quaid H. Quadri, Jr., the commander of the 169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina Air National Guard. He warned of radar clutter and potential for tall turbines restricting supersonic flights and severely limiting air combat training.

In 2021, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 218 that reaffirmed North Carolina’s commitment to offshore wind power as the state transitions to a clean energy economy and established offshore wind development goals of 2.8 gigawatts off the North Carolina coast by 2030 and 8.0 GW by 2040. Achieving these goals would power roughly 2.3 million homes across the state by 2040.

Military concerns are not the only issues, after a massive Christmas blackout in December of 2022, many North Carolinians were left wondering about the makeup of the state’s energy profile and the cost of “clean energy”. A recent report from Jon Sanders the Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor at the John Locke Foundation, noted offshore wind projects have had costs skyrocket as much as 57% in recent years.

The future of offshore wind across the east coast remains highly controversial.

The full report from BOEM can be found here.